By: The EasterAfrican
Ethiopia on Thursday says the construction of its controversial mega dam project, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has reached 90 percent completion.
This was announced by the office of national coordination for the construction of the dam during an occasion to mark 12 years since its foundation stone was laid.
Addis Ababa’s announcement comes only few days after Egypt issued a fresh warning against Ethiopia over the multi-billion-dollar massive dam project which will be Africa’s largest upon completion.
Cairo said that “all options are on the table” to deal with any threats to its water supply posed by the Ethiopian mega dam.
‘All options open’
“All options are open, and all alternatives remain available, and Egypt has its capabilities, its foreign relations, and its capabilities” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned on Wednesday.
“We just declare all options open without defining specific procedures, and this serves the Egyptian interest in retaining all available alternatives,” Shoukry said, adding that Egypt takes disciplined stances towards Ethiopia’s “intransigence”.
A day later, Addis Ababa angrily responded, dismissing as “irresponsible” the remarks by the Egyptian Foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Sudanese Finance Minister Gibril Ibrahim on Thursday said the power to be generated from GERD will not only be enough for the neighbouring countries but will also contribute to the development of the entire region.
In an exclusive interview with the state-run Ethiopian News Agency, the minister noted that one cannot have economic development without power and “we think the new dam is going to help us have enough and cheap energy from Ethiopia”.
On the other hand, food production from Sudan’s vast arable land can help Ethiopia’s needs, he said, and emphasised that the countries “need to work together on agriculture to make sure that all of our people are getting enough food”.
The Sudanese minister stressed the role the mega-dam will have in regional development.
“Whatever you think of, you are going to look for power to work and the cheapest power is either solar energy or wind energy or hydro energy. Here now we are having hydro energy and we are going to make maximum use of it. Still, the dam has not reached its maximum and we do think that the power will be enough for Sudan, Ethiopia and for others as well,” Ibrahim added.
Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been locked in talks for about a decade over the dam after Addis Ababa broke ground on the project in 2011.
The minister stressed that the three countries need to think positively and understand each other in a bid to find lasting solutions for outstanding issues between them.
“I don’t think these are very big problems, and the benefits can be much bigger than anything else,” he said.
According to the minister, Sudan has more than 750 kilometres of coastline on the Red Sea and “we do think Ethiopia can make use of the Red Sea and have a free zone at our ports. That will help Ethiopia and Sudan to develop.”
Ibrahim added that the two countries need to cooperate and build the needed infrastructures to connect their people.
“Roads, railways, and of course airlines, are working well but we do think we need railways and roads to make sure that our people are connected,” he said.
Diminish Nile water
Cairo and Khartoum fear that the huge dam being built near the Sudanese border would eventually diminish their historic water shares from the River Nile, hence consider the Ethiopian dam a threat to their water security.
They insist that Ethiopia should halt water filling operations until the parties reach a legally binding agreement with Ethiopia on the overall operation of the dam.
Addis Ababa, however, argues that the dam will not have a significant impact on the natural water flow into the downstream countries.